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Cate Blanchett named United Nations goodwill ambassador

UNITED NATIONS -- Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett said Monday she's proud to have been named a global goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency.

Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said the Australian actress "has already demonstrated great commitment to the cause," having just returned from Jordan where she met Syrian refugee families and heard first-hand about the perilous journeys they took to escape the war.

"I am deeply proud to take on this role," Blanchett said in a statement. "There has never been a more crucial time to stand with refugees and show solidarity. We are living through an unprecedented crisis, and there must be shared responsibility worldwide."

Today, there are 60 million refugees and people who are displaced within their own countries -- the largest number since World War II.

"It feels like we're at a fork in the road," Blanchett said. "Do we go down the compassionate path or do we go down the path of intolerance?"

"As a mother, I want my children to go down the compassionate path. There's much more opportunity, there's much more optimism and there is a solution down that path," said the mother of four.

UNHCR said Blanchett has been working closely with UNHCR for over a year to raise awareness about the forcibly displaced.

"Goodwill ambassadors play a pivotal role in creating better public understanding and support for refugees, and never has there been a greater need to build these bridges," Grandi said. "We look forward to seeing her inspire many more people in her new role."

Blanchett follows in the footsteps of another Oscar-winning actress, Angelina Jolie, who was a UNHCR goodwill ambassador for years before being elevated in 2012 to be a special envoy for the refugee agency.